Thursday, 28 February 2008

WAR(stones), What Are They Good For (well a 3-1 win actually!) - Wednesbury Town 1 Warstones Wanderers 3 - West Midlands League Division 1 - 23/02/08

There has been a club called Wednesbury Town FC since way back in the 1880's, I have no idea if the club I watched on Saturday have anything to do with the original club other than the name though. This Wednesbury Town don't even have their own ground and play their home games at Darlaston Town's Waverley Road.
Now, as we all know, lot's of non-league grounds have slopes, Tamworth has one, Yeovil have a rather famous one which gets mentioned whenever FA Cup Giantkilling is discussed, but the slope at Waverley Road beats them all. My pictures don't do it justice, it really is amazing. Wednesbury came out for the second half sporting climbing boots and crampons, no really!
As with a lot of West Midlands League grounds, Waverley Road could do with some loving care and attention, but there's no money and very few spectators. You can see that it would be capable of hosting higher division football but would struggle to pass a ground grading inspection for step five these days.

The entrance is between a couple of houses in a typical Black Country terraced street, somehow the rather nice blue painted wrought iron gates have survived being carted off by ne'er do wells! There is a largeish stand opposite the entrance with bench seats in it that's it for cover, further seating is provided for by a few benches outside the clubhouse which sits on top of the hill to the right. The bottom end is just broken fencing and weeds, my son did manage to find a nice new football in the undergrowth, if anyone knows who B.W.F.C. are, my son has your ball!
Decent pint of Banks's Mild in the clubhouse for just £1.95 and the cheese salad rolls were nice too.

I don't mind admitting that I have no idea who Warstones Wanderers are or where they came from or when they were formed! I have a feeling they are probably another fo these clubs which were either Sunday League or maybe Birmingham AFA and have decided to take the plunge into the pyramid. I do know that they are one of the few clubs in this division to issue a programme regularly so if you are a "paper-chaser" then they might be worth checking out. They have a website.
*EDIT* See, should have checked the website before, the history section tells me that they formed in 2001, started a Saturday team in the Wolverhampton and District Combination in 2005 and joined the WMRL the season after, it pays to do yer research!
The game itself wasn't up to much, Wednesbury took an early lead but were pegged back before half-time. Warstones then took advantage of the playing down the mountain and scored twice before I had even finished my half-time pint! I saw both goals through the clubhouse window though and the second one was a belter, volleyed into the top corner from the edge of the box.
I spent much of the second-half attempting to get updates from the Tamworth V Aldershot FA Trophy match (2-1 to Aldershot in the end, Wembley dreams dashed for another season!) but I don't think I missed a lot.

A quick mention for the Warstones number 10, he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch, would have been worth the admission fee alone, had there been an admission fee that is!

Admission: Free

Programme: No

Attendance: 16 (Headcount and not including obvious club officials and anyone wandering in after more than 20 minutes, I have standards!)

Saints Edge Out The Staggies - Ross County 0 St. Johnstone 1 - Scottish Cup Round 5 - 12/02/08

I was supposed to have visited Victoria Park back in December when I foolishly thought that I could fit it in along with a couple of Highland League games between Christmas and New Year, the weather put paid to that plan! No problems this time for this rearranged Scottish Cup fifth round tie.
Ross County have had their problems, they are yet another club who have had their share of financial woes (see the Save Our Staggies website for details), they were also relegated to the Scottish second division last season but are currently top of that division and the crowds are certainly holding up. They regularly get over 2,000 attending home games which, considering the size of the town of Dingwall, is pretty impressive and is certainly a lot more that anyone else in the second division and probably more than any team outside of the SPL!

I don't want to be too unkind to the town they play in but Dingwall is not particularly inspiring. It's not a place I would recommend if you were to ask me for a list of places to visit in The Highlands let's put it that way. There are several of these blandly anonymous towns along the east coast, Invergordon and Tain spring to mind as others. I love The Highlands but only normally go anywhere near Dingwall if passing through on my way to Ullapool!
Pre-match refreshments were taken mainly in Inverness, a couple of very nice pints in The Castle Tavern (a welcome addition to Inverness' real-ale scene). I did pop into The Mallard at Dingwall station for a couple of nips to keep the cold at bay and had a chat to a few of the St. Johnstone officials. They wee not particularly confident, they are doing well in the first division but knew that Ross County away is never easy.

The ground is just a short walk from the station and the floodlights were on to guide me over the railway bridge and down to the ground. Tickets seemed to be selling briskly enough and there was a decent atmosphere inside the ground, helped by what I suspect is the only bagpiper to play on a football terrace in Britain, I may be wrong about that though!

The game itself was very even, in fact Ross probably shaded it on possession and chances but they found Alan Main in good form. The winning goal was most unfortunate, the otherwise excellent Ross keeper Tony Bullock completely bollockse up an attempted clearance, slicing the ball into the path of Saints striker Liam Craig who outsprinted the defender to prod the ball into an empty net. The Staggies tried to get back into it and did hit the post towards the end but St. Johnstone held on.

More fortifying warmers were taken in The Mallard afterwards before I dragged myself back on the train to Inverness.

Attendance: 2519
Programme: Err...yes I think so!
Price: £10
Pie: Steak pies £1.10 and very nice too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tamworth Vs Scaffold Rangers* Trophy Replay Live Update

Should have been live blogging from about 19:45 but got tied up at work (yes it's that sort of place!)

21:00 Tamworth 2-0 up at Half time, Wright and Nurse the scorers and thoroughly deserved by all accounts.

*Scaffold Rangers is copyright Kenny R.

21:23 - England U-21's are winning by a few against The Republic of Ireland, I think it's 3-0 or something.

21:26 - Tamworth 2-1 Stafford and apparently Stafford have also had a nailed on penalty turned down. Ulp!

21:33 - In other BSN news, Barrow were beating Klattering 1-0 and Telford were 2-0 up at the doomed Leigh RMI at half time.

21:35 - The Barra - Klattering game was abandoned after 54 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch. Piddling down at Tamuff as well but we're still winning.

21:38 - England U-21's won 3-0 and are nine points clear at the top of whatever group it is they are playing in, Milner with a couple and one from Walcott.
Must be close to the end at Tamuff, come on!!

21:44 - All over, Tamuff win 2-1. As Jase on the forum says, natural order resumed, and we have a new and wonderful nickname for Scaffold Rangers! A good night all-in-all!


Tamworth Show Some Pedigree at Marstons - Stafford Rangers 2 Tamworth 2 - FA Trophy 3rd Round - 02/02/08

I love away days! I haven't done many this season so I was looking forward to this one. Stafford is an easy one for me, tram to Brum, train straight to Staffford, picking Scott up on the way, no hassle. We found a couple of members of the Tamworth Train Taxi Crew (more on them later!)hanging around outside The Hogshead and arranged to meet them in The Bird In Hand after we had grabbed a pie. Nice pub The Bird In Hand, Holden's and Beowulf amongst the ales on tap and they didn't mind the few kids we had with us. There were vague plans to do a couple more pubs but in the end we settled for a fleet of taxis to The Tap & Spile near the ground which also had some decent beer on, it was a good start to the day I tells ya!

I thought we might have met a few Stafford fans in here but those that did venture in walked straight back out when they saw the by now rather numerous Tamuff fans. We don't bite you know! There was a bit of a sing song which was not appreciated by "The campest chav in Stafford" who was luckily (for him really) talked out of taking the whole pub on.

And so to the ground. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that Stafford charge £8 for concessions so it cost me a twenty spot to get myself and Cameron in to stand in the worst part of the ground. Marston road is quickly becoming a bizarre place to watch football, I've always liked the character of the main stand and that has been retained but they have done some strange things to the two ends of the ground whilst the large shed where they stick away fans is just horrible, especially the toilets, not many grounds at this level still make you piss up a brick wall these days and I didn't fancy the portaloo stood next to it!

The Stafford Chavs discuss their latest ASBO's

Last season Stafford decided to put seats into the stand opposite the clubhouse, they are a fetching shade lime green and they have erected some sort of large gazebo over the top of them, reminds one of a refugee camp in a way. On the clubhouse end they now have a rather rickety looking construction of scaffolding and planks which has surely not been inspected by any Health and Safety officer. It looks like it would fall down if you jumped on it, luckily there has been little in the way of excitement at Marston Road this season so it has managed to survive.

The game itself was as even as the scoreline suggests. In my biased view I reckon we were the better team and we certainly created a couple of early chances but there wasn't much between us to be fair. Stafford won't survive in The Conference but I expected them to have a bit more quality. I mentioned in last report against Hyde that I managed to miss both of Tamworth's goals, well the run continued. No sooner had I nipped to recycle some of the day's beer than up went the cheer. Nick Wright had scored. I don't see many Tamworth goals. I dared to go again a while later and yes, there was another cheer, this time it was the Stafford equaliser. In a way I was almost glad, if Tamworth had been the scorers I may have had to spend the rest of my supporting days stood in the toilet just so we would keep winning.

A moment of madness a shortly afterwards nearly cost us the game. Evans seemed to get caught by Jarrett and he retaliated. You just cannot raise your hands when the referee is only a yard away and although Jarrett definitely made the most of it (and being a Tamworth lad himself he got some very wrong but very funny stick from us for the rest of the half!) but Evans had to walk. That was in about the 36th minute and then on the stroke of half time Jarret, inevitably, put Stafford into the lead with a well placed shot from a floated cross.

That could have been game over, but the New Tamworth are made of sterner stuff. The heads did not drop and the ten men battled superbly. Nick Wright missed an absolute sitter from about two yards out after doing all the hard work in rounding the keeper and it was no surprise then that our new found wonder-striker Dave Bamtinho equalised with a well placed low shot. He just can't stop scoring at the moment! There were just a couple more chances for each side but no further scoring. A draw was about right and I really fancy us to complete the job tonight. I'm working but I'll live blog something if I get time.

A word on the Stafford stewarding. Pitiful. They allowed the idiots on both sides of the inadequate barrier to taunt each other throughout the game, if your going to segregate us then do it properly. In fact it would be better not to bother because none of the brave little souls would have the bottle to do anything if their weren't any barriers to stop them getting a slap or two. At one point a Stafford "fan" picked up a bin and made to throw it at the Tamworth fans, the fact that he hilariously then dropped it on his own head doesn't mean he shouldn't have been kicked out. We got locked in afterwards too - again! Why? It's not like there were hundreds of Stafford fans waiting to get us and we just wanted to get back to the pub, it was cold.

I had another pint in the Tap and then wandered back to the station, but the Tamworth Train Taxi Crew excelled themselves once again by missing the last train back to Brum and having to get a taxi back to tamworth. Workington is the next away game lads, that could be a bit expensive!

Attendance: 1025

Price: £12 adults £8 kids

Programme: £2.50

Food: I didn't bother but Cameron was impressed by the chips and curry sauce.

Beer: Slurp.